by Eugene Higgins
Back when it was more common for me to be a passenger on a commercial airline – that seems like a hundred years ago! – I often heard a garbled transmission from the captain as he suddenly interrupted the steady roar of the engines. “This is the your pilot. I have some important information. It looks like … hiss … (then some inaudible words) then … but I still think we … hiss, crackle … (more unclear words, then)… Thanks for your cooperation.” It was rather worrisome to hear him giving an important but indecipherable message, 35,000 feet above what the late Mr. Frank Pearcey fondly and frequently called “terra firma,” (adding in his own inimitable way, “The more firma the less terra”).
You likely know that there have been instances of passengers suffering injuries as a result of their not being buckled during a period of high winds and rough weather, so it was something of a relief when, almost immediately after this “announcement,” the stewardess (sorry) “flight attendant” would pick up the phone and inform us we were not, in fact, crashing into the Atlantic. Rather, in wonderfully welcome and intelligible tones, she would clarify what the message was: “The captain has turned on the seatbelt sign. Please remain in your seats and fasten your seatbelts. We will be experiencing some turbulence for a few minutes.” (All of this should have served as a reminder to me to make sure the Gospel message always comes across clearly and distinctly!)
I think we all – particularly us more-than-usually-agitated Americans – need to buckle our metaphorical seatbelts just now. The turbulence that hit our society months ago is now ripping through the election process, and it assuredly will not be over in “a few minutes.” When the Marxist maxim “the end justifies the means” becomes the unstated (and at times the brazenly stated) policy of some people, those “means” can be ruthless, unprincipled, corrupt, and even violent. Nor is it comforting to think that this unrest and uncertainty likely will continue for a number of months. When you experience inflight turbulence, jumping out of the plane is not a viable alternative. But just as we can take precautions to lessen the effects of turbulence on a plane, we can offset the disorienting effects of all this present turmoil. Instead of rising and falling with every disparate and contradictory news item flowing across your screen and into your eyes, ears, and mind, you can “buckle up” – or more Biblically “gird up” – your mind by keeping the following immutable facts in your thoughts:
Psalm 75 reminds us, “Promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the Judge: He putteth down one, and setteth up another.” (Interesting, BTW, that “the north” is not mentioned). So promotion comes from God. Legal wrangling, Constitutional crises, and duplicitous dealings notwithstanding, God is in control. No matter what humans try to do, you cannot “put up” someone whom God is putting down nor suppress someone whom God is “setting up.” God’s authority and power are insurmountable.
In Acts 15, when many were confused as to what God was doing in the world in their day, the ever-judicious James rose to his feet and uttered one of those gloriously calming and constantly relevant principles that are found in the scriptures: “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world.”God does not suddenly recall something, or need to be reminded of something, or require to be informed of something. His wisdom and foreknowledge are infallible.
The Apostle Paul reminded us in Ephesians chapter 1 that God “worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.” Mortal rulers require counselors whose far-ranging knowledge and experience can (hopefully) guide them to make informed decisions. But God’s “counsel” is not with some separate entity. His “own will” is His counsellor and He works so that His will is accomplished. In fact He works “all things” to that end. Even when God allows unrighteous men to accomplish their evil purpose, (or seem to do so), God redirects it to accomplish His goal (see “Haman”). There are far, far bigger things afoot here than the question of who sits in the Oval Office. God is preparing the world for the advent of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Part of those preparations involves your being translated into His presence. “For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry.”His plans and His timing are incomparable.
So, the choice is yours. If you want to be ceaselessly unsettled and endlessly upset, you can hang on every fresh news-break, ride the wave of every new report that is “JUST IN,” allow yourself to be alternatively depressed or exhilarated, become incensed at what unscrupulous people are trying to do, be tossed about incessantly by the turbulence, or … you can avail yourself of the seatbelt that will keep you firmly in place. Actually, the Bible has a far better analogy, a more significant simile, than “a seatbelt.” It speaks about truth that “anchors” us: “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the Forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an High Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Heb. 6:19, 20).
When Paul and his shipmates were being rocked by the storm, Acts 27 records that they “cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day.” Their anchors were thrown out into the same raging sea that was buffeting their ship. But your anchor is firmly within the veil, beyond all storms and turbulence. As someone has said, believers really are too blessed to be stressed. (Please remind me I wrote that the next time you see me burdened with worries!) God’s power, prescience, and purposes are intact and operating as they always have. His authority is insurmountable. His knowledge is infallible. His plans are incomparable. It wouldn’t surprise me if, in a very short time, we will look back on all of this from Heaven and laugh at our worries. In the meantime, please try to remember that, better than a seatbelt for your lap, you have an anchor for your soul. And the message from your Captain is not garbled and confusing. It is calming, clear, and comforting:
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid … These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 14:27; 16:33).